Life has changed in the most beautiful way since becoming a mother...

Ahead of Mother’s Day, SARAH HORGAN catches up with women who had babies over the past 12 months
Life has changed in the most beautiful way since becoming a mother...

Irene Kelleher with baby Marie Pictures: Anna Groniecka

AS a little girl helping her mum feed Cork’s hungry and comfort those suffering, Elisha Twomey realised from a very young age just how lucky she was.

You might say the same for her baby son Cruze, who she brought into the world last October. At just 20 years old, Elisha is already envisioning them growing up and hitting the clubs together when he’s eventually old enough!

“When he’s 18, I’ll be 38 and living my best life,” she beamed. “The pair of us are going to be hitting the town together and that’s something I can’t wait for. We are going to grow up together and be best pals.”

Elisha spoke of her own unconventional childhood as she paid tribute to her renowned mum Caitríona Twomey, who heads the soup kitchen Cork Penny Dinners on Little Hanover Street.

“I was in there with my mum from the age of about six so they all know me,” she said of the service users and volunteers.

Elisha Twomey and baby Cruze. Picture: Markos Photography
Elisha Twomey and baby Cruze. Picture: Markos Photography

“It was crazy all the cards and outfits I got for Cruze from people who used to eat there all those years ago. Even though I was just a child when we met, they still remembered and thought of me.”

Speaking of her childhood experiences, Elisha said: “I really believe that everyone should go to Cork Penny Dinners at least once in their lives to see how difficult some people have it. 

"Going in there with my mum helped me realise, even as a child, how lucky I had it.”

Fast forward 14 years and Elisha is still learning from her mum.

“I learned absolutely everything I know from my mum. She showed me it all from how to swaddle Cruze to winding and burping him.

“When she lies him across her knees, he’s instantly calm. Mum has always had a way with kids.”

Learning that she was going to be a mum initially came as a shock to Elisha.

“I was in my best friend Maria’s house and I knew that something wasn’t right,” she recalled. 

“I took a pregnancy test and couldn’t believe that it came back positive.”

Elisha texted her mum the news some time later.

“I texted her on Messenger to let her know because I was so petrified of what she’d say.”

But her mum couldn’t have been more supportive.

“She sent me a message back telling me to come home and that everything was going to be fine.”

Elisha confessed she was nervous about the birth.

“ I was nervous about the labour, but the hardest part is when you can’t hand them back. I was always taking on the night feeds because I had so many nieces and nephews. However, this one I couldn’t give back.”

Elisha described her first encounter with Cruze as “love at first sight”.

“When he looked into my eyes, it was like he knew we belonged to each other. If someone had said that to me before I had Cruze, I would have thought it was soppy, but I really believe that.”

The 20-year-old is looking forward to her first Mother’s Day.

“I’m so excited to get the handwritten card from Cruze, even though I’ll know it’s really from my own mum.”

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Tina Hemlock Coyne with her daughters Lauren and Ria. Picture: Sean Sharpe
Tina Hemlock Coyne with her daughters Lauren and Ria. Picture: Sean Sharpe

CORK fashion icon Tina Hemlock Coyne never imagined she would be expecting her second daughter at the age of 46.

Even in her late 30s, the Kinsale woman was determined to enjoy a glamorous life minus the night feeds and nappy changes. Life might have had other plans, but the milliner couldn’t be happier as a loved-up mother-of -two. Now, she marks yet another milestone as she looks forward to her first Mother’s Day with their new addition - 11-month-old Ria.

The flame-haired beauty and her husband Tom also have a five-year-old daughter named Lauren.

“When I was in my 20s, I told myself that motherhood wasn’t for me,” Tina laughed. 

“Instead, I wanted to see the world and get to the top in my career. After getting married in my late 30s, life took a different turn. I was 41 years old when I had my first daughter Lauren. Her grandparents were in their late 70s and I saw the new lease of life it gave them. 

"I never planned to have more kids but I looked at Lauren in the first lockdown and thought about how nice it would be for her to have a brother or sister.”

Tina Hemlock Coyne with her daughters Lauren and Ria. Picture: Sean Sharpe
Tina Hemlock Coyne with her daughters Lauren and Ria. Picture: Sean Sharpe

Pregnancy was never without its challenges for Tina, who suffered from hyperemesis up to the birth of both babies. The condition results in symptoms such as severe nausea, dizziness and dehydration during pregnancy.

Being pregnant during a global pandemic was a challenging experience too. Her stay in hospital was very lonely and she longed to get back home. But it was worth the wait...

“For as long as I live, I’ll never forget Lauren’s reaction to me bringing Ria home for the first time. 

"After running into the house after school, she turned around to me like an old soul and said: ‘I’ve always dreamed of being a big sister’.

“She never thought her dream would come true and she was beyond joy and delight. Lauren has grown up so fast and this has changed her life hugely. The two of them have the most beautiful relationship.”

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Irene Kelleher with baby Marie Pictures: Anna Groniecka
Irene Kelleher with baby Marie Pictures: Anna Groniecka

ACTOR Irene Kelleher vowed never to take a Mother’s Day for granted after intense heartbreak led to the birth of her beautiful rainbow baby Marie.

The actor and playwright, whose work has included a role in a Season 5 episode of Games of Thrones, is looking forward to spending Sunday, March 27 with the little girl she waited so long for.

A rainbow baby is one born after a miscarriage, stillborn, or neonatal death. A prominent voice on Cork’s theatre and film scene, Irene opened up about her experiences with miscarriage to give hope to those suffering in silence.

“I suffered two miscarriages and one of them was quite late,” she said. “It’s 2022 and I still feel there is a huge silence around miscarriage and baby loss. It’s really sad that there is such a discomfort around it in this day and age.

“I can still remember feeling very alone and lost. I told myself that if I was ever lucky enough to have a baby, I would talk about my experience to give hope to someone else. When something isn’t talked about, it makes it extra lonely and painful.” 

She said the stigma around miscarriage and baby loss only adds to the loneliness.

“For me, the silence was worse. I’d go as far as to say it was deafening. I’ll never forget the people who were there for me.”

Irene Kelleher with baby Marie Pictures: Anna Groniecka
Irene Kelleher with baby Marie Pictures: Anna Groniecka

Irene praised the bravery of the women who came before her: “I was a rainbow baby too. I often think of how bad it must have been for my mum back in the ’80s when there was even more silence around the topic.”

She described the first couple of weeks after the birth of Marie as a whirlwind.

“It was only when I got my first Christmas card - made out to ‘mammy’- that it really hit me that I was finally a mother. 

"Life has changed in the most beautiful way. The first couple of weeks were a whirlwind but I never took it for granted. When I look at her sleeping, I wonder what she dreams about.

“Every day, I’m reminded of how lucky I am. She is our rainbow baby, the one we waited so long for. Even in the tired moments, I remember that.”

Irene is determined to share influences from her own childhood with Marie.

“My dad’s mum was the only grandparent I knew and there weren’t any videos of my other grandparents. There were lots of pictures but I never got to see them in action. Having all these videos of my dad for Marie is so special because she will be able to get a sense of her grandad and know the sound of his voice. 

"I also sing the song to Marie that my dad sang for me. I called Marie ‘my little pal’ because that was the name he had for me. It makes me feel close to dad, which is nice because that love is passed on.”

Irene is also influenced by her mother and mother-in-law.

“I called her Marie after my mum, simply because she is my favourite person in the world. Her middle name is Catherine after her other grandmother. I love when family names are carried on. When I looked up the name Marie, I learned that it meant ‘star of the sea’. It’s really fitting because before she was born, I was researching for a play I was writing that’s set in a lighthouse.”

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